Lanell Adams misses her best friend. She misses making funny faces with her two nieces when they talked via Skype and would do anything to see their smiling faces again.
While search efforts have been taking place nearly everyday since a Kenai family of four went missing six weeks ago, Kenai police and volunteers have not found anything to pinpoint their location. Volunteer numbers have dwindled in recent days with searches competing with people’s work and recreation schedules, said volunteer search organizer Katherine Covey.
Despite not hearing from her sister Rebecca Adams, 22, nieces Michelle Hundley, 5, and Jaracca Hundley, 3, and Brandon Jividen, 37, Rebecca Adams’ boyfriend, Lanell Adams remains determined to find out what led to their disappearance.
“The story seems to be dying down and people have to move on but that’s my sister and nieces out there and I don’t want them or (Jividen) to be forgotten,” Lanell Adams said. “I am motivated to find out what happened. That keeps us pushing everyday.”
Organizers have planned another large-scale ground search for 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday starting at the end of California Avenue. The last line search on June 28 brought out more than a 100 people and covered a lot of ground, Covey said.
“We would like to get as many people out as possible,” she said. “If and when one day we have to call it off, we want to let (the family) know we did everything possible and expanded every resource.”
Covey said volunteers should come with a charged cell phone, protection from bears and dress for unpredictable weather. Anyone interested in joining the search no matter how long is required to check in and out at the command center at the end of California Avenue to ensure everyone is safe and accounted for, she said.
After the police stopped their coordinated searches two weeks ago, the family of the missing was the only ones searching for a week, Covey said. Since then volunteers have scoured the woods, waterways and trails around Wildwood Drive on all-terrain vehicles, horseback, boat and plane, she said.
“They were exhausted and beat down,” she said. “Their spirits have been lifted by everyone who has come out even without success.”
Covey said she has encouraged people to write to Gov. Sean Parnell and ask for more support. She has also looked into bringing in another dog scent team from Canada.
The family of the missing have handed out ribbons throughout the community that read, “Find the missing four” to raise awareness of their disappearance. The ribbon is made up of the family’s four favorite colors, red, pink, blue and purple, Covey said.
Lanell Adams has spent the last five weeks involved in the search, away from her husband and four children back home in Washington state. She moved from Alaska to Washington two years ago. She said it has been difficult being away from them and the extended time off from work has put a strain on their finances. Earlier this week, her 7-year-old son Aaron flew up to be with her.
“He has had a hard time with all this,” Lanell Adams said. “It is great to see him again. He is a good motivator.”
Kenai Police Lieutenant David Ross said the search warrant for the family’s apartment on California Drive expired two weeks ago and police have relinquished the apartment back to the property owners. While police are not actively searching without any leads, investigators continue to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigations on the case, he said.
He said police has briefed volunteers on the areas where dogs and aircraft have searched.
“We have been through this case with agencies with a lot of expertise, advised on what investigative avenues to take and followed every logical lead,” Ross said. “In a way it is frustrating because investigators would like tips that would point us in the direction and solve this.”
Jeff Pfile, the landlord of the four-plex on California Avenue, said after police returned the keys to their apartment, the family of the missing four cleared out all their belongings. Pfile said he is in the process of cleaning the unit and will put it up for rent soon. He said the apartment was in good condition and shouldn’t require many repairs.
“They were pretty clean people,” he said. “It is weird that they up and vanished. (Police) did what they had to do and now it is time to clean up and move on.”
Lanell Adams said she will soon need to return back to her life with her family in Washington, but she will not give up on her sister.
“I talked to her about everything,” she said. “She is so sweet and would do anything to help. I know if it was me out there, she would do anything and everything in her power to fine me and my family.”
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org